Congress

Some battleground Democrats voice support to constituents for a barrier at the border

Freshman Democrats in purple districts host their first post-shutdown town halls

Rep. Anthony Brindisi, who narrowly defeated a first-term Republican incumbent last year, held his first town hall over the weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The continuing resolution passed by Congress on Friday brought a three-week reprieve to federal employees and allowed lawmakers to depart for their districts and get face time with constituents over the weekend. 

A handful of Democratic freshmen who flipped battleground districts from Republican control in the midterm “blue wave” last year both praised the temporary restoration in funding to federal agencies while voicing support for more spending at the southern border in their first town halls since being sworn into office.

Some Blue Dog Democrats endorsed erecting a physical barrier of some kind. 

Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York:

Brindisi — who narrowly defeated a first-term Republican incumbent last year and declined to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House — scorned President Donald Trump for the shutdown but expressed agreement that some sort of physical barrier should exist at the border, WBNG reported.

The 22nd District Democrat and chair of the Blue Dog Caucus also argued for “immigration reforms” more broadly.

“Investments in technology at the border, you have to have more border agents and if we can throw in there some other immigration reforms that have been hampering us for the last couple years we should try and get that done too,” Brindisi said.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minnesota:

“I believe it is wrong for any president of any party to shut down the government to achieve a policy objective,” the freshman said in her first town hall, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

But Craig — a former executive for a Minnesota medical device manufacturer who unseated a freshman Republican to represent the 2nd District last year — agreed the U.S. “should be investing in advanced technology on our border and yes, there may be places where we need additional barriers.”

Rep. Andy Kim, D-New Jersey:

A constituent pressed the freshman Democrat at his first town hall: “It seems like the best way to spell compromise is with four letters: Wall.”

Kim equivocated, promising to hear from experts about the best way to allocate funding at the southern border, the Burlington County Times reported.

“My approach has been to talk to everyone. I’ll be honest with you, I go down there saying ‘I’m not going to trust anybody in this town right off the bat.’ I’ve been cautious and trying to get a sense of things,” Kim said. “I promise you I’ll listen. I just want to make sure I have space to do that when we’re not holding government employees at leverage.”

Kim received blowback from one constituent for casting a vote for Pelosi for speaker of the House but drew applause for pledging not to accept campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-New Jersey:

Sherrill — who last year flipped the 11th District from red to blue for the first time in more than three decades — called for more towers along the border at her first town hall, Morristown Green reported.

She also endorsed new rules for asylum seekers, supplementing funding for border agents, and making use of drone surveillance, according to the site.

“We need to have a bicameral, bipartisan meeting so that can have an agreement in place by Feb. 15,” Sherrill said, according to a video of the event. “The list of people who will be negotiating has already been made and I think the outline of what that would look like is already being set up from what I'm hearing from leadership.”

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